A legacy of love – In memory of Elaine Duxbury

This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Autumn ‘22
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Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate – and it’s a word WEHI will forever associate with the late Elaine Duxbury.

Elaine joined the WEHI family as a consumer in 2014. A ‘consumer’ is a patient, carer or community member who has been personally affected by a disease. In this role Elaine was wholeheartedly committed to helping our researchers better understand bowel cancer, with the aim of developing new treatments for people living with the disease.

For more than seven years Elaine was committed to working closely with WEHI bowel cancer researcher, Associate Professor Oliver Sieber. As Elaine once said, “Hopefully Oliver’s research can save people going through what I have been through in my life.”

A lifelong commitment

Cancer, unfortunately, has claimed several members of Elaine’s family, fuelling her dedication to help improve the health outcomes of people living with bowel cancer. It all started when Elaine was 25 years old and her mum, Shirley, was diagnosed with bowel cancer and died two years later. Subsequently Elaine and her siblings were found to have the same disease-causing gene.

Many members of the family had preventative surgery including Elaine’s niece, Bianca, who was in her twenties at the time. Tragically cancer took the lives of Elaine’s brothers, Alan and Peter, before taking Bianca who left behind four sons.

Elaine was diagnosed in her mid-forties. She was only given a 50 per cent chance of surviving the next five years and was the only one of her siblings to do so. During her battles, and in the midst of her tragedies, Elaine did not stop fighting for herself and for others to combat the disease.

Associate Professor Sieber said Elaine’s commitment to medical research and to improving the lives of people living with bowel cancer was remarkable.

“It was an honour to work with Elaine. She touched everyone who worked with her at WEHI and she will be remembered not only for her tremendous fundraising efforts, but also for her generosity and warmth.”

“On behalf of WEHI, farewell dear Elaine. Thank you for raising your voice to help people living with bowel cancer in Australia and around the world. You will be terribly missed.”

First published on 22 March 2022
This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Autumn ‘22
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